Lynchburg City Schools to launch new attendance campaign: 'Don't Sleep on Schools'

Burst campaign starts after Labor Day

LYNCHBURG, Va. – In September, you will see a video with some Lynchburg City School students on social media platforms.

Lynchburg City Schools is kicking off a new campaign to remind parents and students about the importance of attendance. 

It's why missing out on the school-day is not an option for Heritage High School junior and athlete Josh Cleaver.

"If you miss anything football, you're going to pay back on the field and I don't want to do that," Cleaver said.

Right now, you can find the "Don't Sleep on School" posters at River Ride Mall and soon city buses and buildings.

"We've looked at it for about three years. And we've realized the numbers are going down, but they're still not where we want them to be," Anne Bond-Gentry, supervisor of health services with LCS, said.

Last year, Lynchburg City Schools had about 8,200 students enrolled and nearly 1,300 students missed 18 days or more. 

"If we can reduce the number of kids that miss that many days in the course of a school year, and that's excused and unexcused absences, both, by about 5% to 10% we'd be making some really, good progress," Bond-Gentry said.

The campaign doesn't only speak to the older kids, but school leaders are reaching out to the little ones too.

"We've done a special project with parents of pre-K this year, where we gave them some information, extra information, about them coming to school and setting that pattern really early," Bond-Gentry said.

School leaders say excused and unexcused absences impact school accreditation, but it's also important for parents to remember, the students lose too.

 "It doesn't sound like a lot to a parent, 'My child just missed two days of school a month.' But it adds up over the course of the year. If you're missing that much instruction a lot of time students get behind and it's difficult to catch up," Bond-Gentry said.